New Year celebrations in the Desert

British forces had just occupied Benghazi and for a time the Germans were on the run.
German transport column on the Agheila-Agedabia road, south of Benghazi, under cannon attack from Bristol Blenheim of No. 113 Squadron RAF. The first two lorries are running off the road. Date unknown but No. 113 Squadron were transferred to the Far East early in 1942.


Last night, Old Year’s Eve, there was an outburst of firing. It began at the stroke of midnight with a few isolated Very lights. Then a burst of tracers went up in a few minutes like a kind of fever men were firing weapons all over the brigade. Wherever you looked grinning men were sending up this incredible fireworks display. No one protested.

It went on until staff cars from brigade began to turn up, shouting orders to ‘Cease fire!’. Slowly the demonstration fizzled out. It must have cost a fortune but it was one way of showing our disillusion against a frustrating campaign and a year of ill grace for British arms.

James Ambrose Brown wrote one of the outstanding accounts of the Desert war in his diary, Retreat to Victory: Springboks’ Diary in North Africa – Gazala to El Alamein, 1942 (South Africans at War).

There were perhaps grounds for celebration, although millions would not live to see the fruits of the agreement to create a new international organisation “The United Nations”. At the last moment Franklin D. Roosevelt had proposed this new title rather than the “Associated Nations” under which the development of the Atlantic Charter into a more wide ranging treaty, encompassing many nations, had been proposed.

Churchill was staying at the White House and provides an illuminating insight into the informal circumstances in which it was agreed between himself and the President:

The President was wheeled-in to me on the morning of January 1. I got out of my bath, and agreed to the draft.

The Declaration could not by itself win battles, but it set forth who we were and what we were fighting for. On New Year’s Day President Roosevelt, I, Litvinov, and Soong, representing China, signed this majestic document in the President’s study.

It was left to the State Department to collect the signatures of the remaining twenty-two nations. The final text must be recorded here.

See Winston Churchill – The Second World War, Volume 3: The Grand Alliance

The United Nations now had a declared common purpose:

Being convinced that complete victory over their enemies is essential to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands, and that they are now engaged in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world…

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Editor January 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Wishing everyone a Happy and Peaceful New Year

Thanks for your support, for recommending and pointing out stuff and picking up errors (thanks to pedanto today) and everything else …

best regards

Martin

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